The Sizzle

Issue 172 - Tuesday, 21st June 2016 - Mister Cool Stride


China's Sunway TaihuLight is the world's fastest computer and contains no US designed chips
China's National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology has developed the world's fastest computer, called Sunway TaihuLight. And when I say world's fastest computer, I mean, the fastest computer that runs the LINPACK benchmark. What makes the Sunway machine quite a bit more interesting than the previous fastest computer, the Tianhe-2, is that the Sunway is packed with Chinese fabricated and designed CPUs. Previously every supercomputer had a CPU designed at least, in the USA. The era of American exceptionalism keeps gettting chipped away, bit by bit.

Twitter buys Magic Pony and adds it to its machine learning team
Twitter purchased Magic Pony. Not a magic pony, but a UK company called Magic Pony that specialises in AI that can understand what's going on in a photo. They'll be adding the tech and the 11 PhD nerds to their already relatively large machine learning team - Twitter Cortex. Soon we will no longer need to tweet as the bots will tweet for us. I hope the bot that imitates me is funny.

Russia is going down the mandatory encryption backdoor road
Russian politicians are following the USA's lead and want to get in on the indiscriminate mass surveillance game, by trying to legislate a backdoor into any sort of encrypted chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber. Basically a rehash of what Apple and the FBI went through, but now in Russian. The usual suspects of "kids getting brainwashed" and "terrorists" have been trotted out, as have the same "a backdoor for the government is a backdoor for anyone" arguments (in Russia, backdoor opens you? sorry). Sooner or later, a service will crack and some government, somewhere will get its way. For now this Russian law is still in its equivalent of the lower house.

NSW government gives $17m of funding to create a big data platform
NSW has set aside $17m to further the state's Data Analytics Centre. The DAC pools info from all the various government departments and use "big data" to assist the government in making decisions. It's currently used by Transport for NSW to try get people to use trains instead of cars and by the Department of Industry for finding out what happens to students that finish VET training and make sure they're learning the things businesses need. Seems to me like this is the first step towards building the Machine from Person of Interest. Has Mike Baird watched PoI? He'd like it.

Vodafone boosts its 30 day, no questions asked, here's a refund, sorry for sucking, policy
Vodafone has decided to improve their 30 day network guarantee by refunding the entire amount spent during the 30 days, as long as you give back the phone to them. So now you can truly get a contract on Vodafone, see how it goes for a month, and if it sucks, you're able to quit the contract, with no out of pocket expenses and no questions asked. That's pretty solid.


Microsoft Flow - IFTTT for business people
Microsoft's gone and made an IFTTT and Zapier competitor called Flow. It ties various web apps together, mainly focused on Microsoft's own products. Flow has been around for a few weeks, but now there's an iOS app for making, editing and tracking flows. You can also receive push notifications regarding your flows to the Flow app on your phone. Looks cool if IFTTT wasn't scratching your itch. It'll be on Android soon.

Stop bothering musicians with your smartphone by using this RFID controlled pouch
Musicians are cracking the shits at people waving their stupid smartphones around at their concerts and not paying enough attention to them, up on stage, playing the cool tunes. Yondr has a solution for them - a neoprene pouch you slip a phone into that can't be re-opened unless you go outside and a security person waves a radio over the case that unlocks the pouch and releases your phone. I guess that's one way to prevent phones getting in the way.

Microsoft shows us that Chrome sucks your battery hard
Microsoft made a video showing how much of a power hog Google Chrome is. They got four Surface Books running side by side, each set up with Firefox, Edge, Chrome and Opera - unsurprisingly, Microsoft Edge was the best performing, managing to extract 7hr 22min of browsing time, versus 4hrs 19 min with Chrome. Confirms what everyone already knew - but probably won't get too many more people to use Edge over Chrome.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!